Wis. could be first to require cochlear implants

April 23, 2009 By RYAN J. FOLEY , Associated Press Writer

(AP) -- Wisconsin could become the first state requiring private insurance companies to cover cochlear implants for children with severe hearing problems. The state Legislature passed a bill Thursday requiring private health insurance plans to cover cochlear implants, hearing aids and related treatment for those under the age of 18. Gov. Jim Doyle has promised to sign it into law.

While hearing aids help some with , those with more severe problems may be candidates for . The devices turn sound into electrical impulses that activate the hearing nerve, allowing the deaf to hear.

Supporters say some families with deaf children cannot afford to pay for implants that cost $50,000 or more when excluded by policies. They say getting the devices early is critical to help children develop their language skills.

"This bill is going to allow children to keep their hearing, to become members of society, to go to school and keep a job," said state Rep. David Cullen, D-Milwaukee.

Several states already require insurance companies to cover some aid costs, but advocates said Wisconsin would be the first to extend the mandate to cochlear implants.

The measure, which allows insurers to apply cost-sharing provisions for the procedures, passed the Senate on a voice vote and by an 80-16 margin in the Assembly.

Opponents, which included some Republicans and business groups, said the mandate would drive up costs for small businesses and employees struggling to afford health care costs.

The potential cost of the mandate is unclear and will vary widely by company, said Phil Dougherty, senior executive officer of the Wisconsin Association of Health Plans.

Roughly 1.6 million residents with private insurance would be affected by the bill. Others in self-funded plans will not be bound by the mandate, and most government-funded plans such as Medicaid already cover the devices.

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Older men need more protein to maintain muscles

November 21, 2017
The amount of protein recommended by international guidelines is not sufficient to maintain muscle size and strength in older men, according to a new study.

Exercising and eating well are greater contributors to health than standing at work

November 21, 2017
By now you've probably heard the edict from the health community: Sitting is the new smoking. Perhaps you've converted to a standing desk, or maybe you have a reminder on your phone to get up once an hour and walk around ...

Changes in young people's sexual practices over the last 20 years revealed

November 20, 2017
Published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, the study describes changes in young people's sexual practices using nationally-representative data from the National Surveys of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal), the ...

Motorcycle crashes cause five times as many deaths as car accidents, six times the health costs

November 20, 2017
Motorcycle accidents are costly in terms of lives and health care costs. Compared with car accidents, motorcycle accidents cause 3 times the injuries, 6 times the medical costs and 5 times the deaths, found new research in ...

Dog ownership linked to lower mortality

November 17, 2017
A team of Swedish scientists have used national registries of more than 3.4 million Swedes aged 40 to 80 to study the association between dog ownership and cardiovascular health. Their study shows that dog owners had a lower ...

New shoe makes running 4 percent easier, 2-hour marathon possible, study shows

November 17, 2017
Eleven days after Boulder-born Shalane Flanagan won the New York City Marathon in new state-of-the-art racing flats known as "4%s," University of Colorado Boulder researchers have published the study that inspired the shoes' ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.